People cringe when they hear the word "meditation." It sounds so spiritual, right? A picture of the Dalai Lama zooms into view and sweat begins to stream down towards the pounding heart.
What if people heard "silence" instead? Silence is used and practiced more popularly. Parents tell their children to hush; teachers instruct their students to quiet down; movie-goers respectfully turn off their conversations and cell phones. Clearly, silence has value.
What if I said, "Silence transforms?" Would that look and sound appealing? Notice how much importance we give to external, sense perceptions--that which we can see, hear, smell, taste, and touch?
How about paying attention to that which can't be seen by the naked eye, but freezes up the brain; or that which can't be touched, but knots up the stomach; that which can't be sniffed, but stifles the air flow; that which can't be heard, but tightens the muscles; and that which can't be tasted, but clogs up the heart? It's downright scary and most people hesitate to even acknowledge paralyzing thoughts and feelings. Fear, change, and the fear of change keep us locked up in unhealthy patterns, the perpetuation of which brings dissatisfaction and emptiness.
Allow me to share my personal journey of self-discovery. A ten-day silent retreat that I attended back in 2008 transformed not just my perspective on life, but also my future. Please know that I'm just an average Jill--the girl next door. I scrunch down and wear my shoes one foot at a time; I snap at the kids if they spill milk on the counter; I argue with the spouse about his lack of emotional support. Water awes me; bugs petrify me; and public speaking buckles my knees. I'm just an ordinary person who had an extraordinary experience and felt a deep sense of responsibility to share it with the world. Thus was born my first publication, "Inner Pilgrimage: Ten Days to a Mindful Me."
Silence isn't just for monks and holy people; it's for the general populace too--for you and for me. Silence offers a solution to taming stress and anxiety--a daily experience of digital-agers. Silence can help individuals reconnect with themselves just like Facebook helps individuals reconnect with the world.
Personally, confronting my inner ugliness, though frightening at first, has induced a sense of awareness that is helping me weather the vicissitudes of life in a calm and positive way. It has severed my dependence on external approval and acceptance. Okay, that's an exaggeration, but I'm diligently working on it. I live mindfully, focus on enjoying the journey of life, and consistently maintain a positive outlook. Silence enables me to operate in a realm in which I’m truly excited to be myself and I’m energized to serve the greater whole. When a door slams in my face, I indulge in whining, for sure; then I pick myself up, dust off my hands, and, in alignment with my inner guidance, take the appropriate steps in the indicated direction. It's as if I pulled into an auto-body shop a beat-up, squeaky car, and drove out a smooth, lean, and efficient machine.
I wanted to share my experience to empower you to motivate yourself to explore a better life--a life of truth. Everyone could use a little motivation now and then. How many of us have gym memberships, but need a little push to get ourselves there? So, why not give silence a try? Who knows, it could lead you to step into uncharted territories, or simply boost your confidence at work. Either way, you will find a new expression of yourself begin to emerge. Now, isn’t that something worth exploring?
© Raji Lukkoor, 2011. All rights reserved.